August 1, 2006
After years of construction and nearly $130 million to build, the John Paul Jones Arena opened its doors for its first ever performance. On Tuesday, the Cirque Du Soleil Delirium concert took stage, with over 8,000 people in attendance. For the most part the event went off without a hitch.
Cars lined up and people walked in and after years of anticipation, the John Paul Jones Arena was open for business.
"We want our patrons to have a good time from the time they get to the building and get out of their car and walk in and have a great experience inside [to] the time they go home," said General Manager Larry Wilson.
This was the first test for arena organizers, getting people parked and into the venue effectively. According to most, they passed.
"We had reserved parking here. It took us maybe about 10 to 15 minutes to get in. It was organized and set up wonderfully," said Roland James.
"Parking was great. People were giving great directions. We had no problems and we are happy to be here," said Julia Pomeroy.
For many walking up to the arena, it was the first time they had ever seen the 15,000 seat venue and everyone noticed something different.
"My favorite part is the landscape of it. I think they've done a great job with the outside of the arena and developing all the landscape walls," said Rob Winstead.
"I love the surrounding area. It's open and yet it [has] everything here," said Pomeroy.
Once inside, patrons enjoyed the acrobatic and musically gifted performance of Cirque Du Soleil. The performance wowed the crows and left them yearning for more.
"The first impression was A+. It was really nice. I'll definitely come back," said Darrick Harris.
"I though the performance was great. The music was really wonderful. [They were] very gifted. The calisthenics [were] really great," said May Lisa.
This was just the tip of the iceberg for the new arena. Up next, WWE Monday Night Raw comes to town on August 14 followed by James Taylor on August 17. In all, organizers hope to have between 90 and 100 events just this year.
Of course, local star Dave Matthews hits the stage for two sold out shows on September 22 and 23.